Star Trek: The Next Generation (1990): S03E10 – The Defector


“The Defector” is the tenth episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the 58th episode of the series overall.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, a Romulan defector requests asylum aboard the Enterprise after claiming to possess vital information about an imminent Romulan invasion.


The episode begins with Data exploring the human condition through acting in a Shakespearean play, Henry V. Captain Picard is giving Data some constructive criticism when he is notified by Commander Riker that a Romulan scout vessel is being pursued in the Neutral Zone. The scout vessel is under attack by a Romulan warbird, and they are approaching Federation space. The Enterprise moves to intercept the ship, causing the Warbird to cloak and return to Romulan space. The occupant of the ship is brought aboard the Enterprise, and claims he is Sub-Lieutenant Setal, an insignificant logistics clerk seeking to defect to the Federation after coming across information about a secret Romulan installation on the planet Nelvana III, within the Neutral Zone, that could sustain a large Romulan fleet.

Picard and his crew remain sceptical of Setal’s claims when he refuses to provide them with any more evidence, and Picard orders an investigation of Setal’s reliability while the Federation relays to the Enterprise that the Romulans are seeking Setal’s return. When Setal’s ship auto-destructs, the crew is forced to review the records of Setal’s arrival, and believe that the Romulans arranged Setal as part of an elaborate hoax. Picard refuses to enter the Neutral Zone on the baseless claims.

Setal confides to Data that his defection came at a heavy price, that he will never be able to see Romulus or his family again; Data attempts to alleviate Setal’s feelings by taking him to a holodeck representation of Romulus. Setal dismisses the hologram and reveals that he is actually Admiral Jarok, a high-ranking officer who previously had led a vicious campaign against several Federation outposts near the Neutral Zone. Jarok again beseeches Picard to investigate Nelvana III, but Picard refuses, and demands either Jarok provide the full information or he will be damned as a traitor. Jarok gives in to Picard’s request, and gives detailed tactical information to Picard. Picard orders the Enterprise to Nelvana III.

When they arrive, the crew finds the planet completely barren with no evidence of any installation, to Jarok’s surprise. Unexpectedly, two Romulan warbirds decloak and fire upon the Enterprise. Picard realises that Jarok was used as a pawn by the Romulans, feeding him disinformation to lure the Federation into the Neutral Zone and at the same time disgrace Jarok. In response to Romulan commander Tomalak’s demand for the Enterprise’s surrender, Picard reveals he had prepared for this contingency: at his command, three Birds-of-Prey, sent by the Klingon Empire at Picard’s request (as relayed by Worf), decloak and surround the warbirds, rendering the situation a stalemate. The Romulans re-cloak and retreat, allowing the Enterprise to leave. After the Enterprise has left the Neutral Zone, the crew finds that Jarok has committed suicide leaving behind a note for his family. While Data notes that relations with the Empire make delivery of the letter impossible, Picard states that, as long as there are Romulans with Admiral Jarok’s courage and conviction, it may, one day, be possible to deliver Jarok’s letter home.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Robert Scheerer.
  • Writer(s): Ronald D. Moore.
  • Release Date: 01 January 1990.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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